Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Sept. 27, 2018

Getting down to business: The Small Business Jobs Survival Act will finally have its day — the question is, will it be “rigged”? The City Council’s Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on the long-stymied bill at City Hall on Mon., Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. Steven Barrison, of the Small Business Congress, said what advocates are hoping for is “an honest, open hearing with the goal of finding a solution to save our small businesses, not a sham and charade hearing orchestrated by REBNY to set up the opportunity after the hearing  to water down the bill to take away all the rights of small business owners.” REBNY, of course, is the Real Estate Board of New York, a staunch foe of the bill, though its opposition has mainly been exerted in the background. The Small Business Congress is stressing that the “litmus test” for what kind of hearing to expect is whether all the “legal claims” against the bill — by REBNY and others — are resolved beforehand. So far, the word coming out of Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office, however, is that this is not something that is normally done, and won’t be done in this case. Under this line of thinking, the S.B.J.S.A.’s legality would ultimately be determined in the courts — assuming the Council approves the bill, after which, as everyone assumes, REBNY would immediately sue. Veteran civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel told us his experience is that, at least at the state level, a clarifying “memo” is sometimes issued before certain contentious pending legislation. “It makes sense to do it before the hearing,” he said. “It makes no sense to have a hearing if there is an issue with home rule and/or it’s unconstitutional. Why have people waste their time coming to the hearing and have city councilmembers waste their time? It’s a crucial piece of legislation. It’s time has come.” Siegel said, even if issuing this sort of legal opinion is not something the Council usually does, it should do it now. “I think there are more empty stores around the city than ever before,” he lamented. But Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said it’s not his experience that the Council’s Legal Department issues an opinion on pending Council legislation. “I’m not aware of a time it was done,” he said, though adding, “I can’t definitely say it’s never been done.” Prior to his time at G.V.S.H.P., Berman was chief of staff to Tom Duane when he was a city councilmember. As Berman put it, “I have been, in one way or another, working with the City Council for 25 years.”

Boys Club rally: The date for a rally by local politicians and community members to ask the Boys Club to hold off on selling its Harriman Clubhouse, on E. 10th St. and Avenue A, has been changed. It will now be held on Sat., Sept. 29, at noon, not Fri., Sept. 28. Politicians are asking the Boys Club to present statistics on the building’s use to justify whether it should be sold.

QB at the L.E.S.G.C.: Meanwhile, over on Avenue D, the Lower Eastside Girls Club got a surprise visit last Saturday from former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The audience at the club’s third annual Nike Backpack Giveaway had no idea Kaepernick was the event’s speaker and gave him huge applause, the New York Post’s Page Six reported. Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “I Know My Rights,” he explained to club members and actress Rosario Dawson that he started kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Climbing every mountain”…but not running for Community Board 2 chairperson…yet. Erik Coler is putting his aspirations of leading C.B. 2 on ice, for now.


Coler puts run on ice: We’re now hearing some different names being tossed out there for candidates for Community Board 2 chairperson in November. Erik Coler, for one, says he is not interested in running for the board’s top seat — at least not yet. It turns out he was hiking up the icy slopes of Mt. Baker, in Washington (elevation 10,781 feet), last week and didn’t have a cell connection when we e-mailed him to ask about it. “It’s not as tall as Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet), but it’s my first glacier, my first experience with climbing on ice,” Coler told us this week. “Had to turn around because the weather was too much. We actually got stuck on the mountain for 21 straight hours in my tent because of the snow, rain and hard winds. … As far as the race goes, I will not be running this year for community board chairperson.” Coler said he thought Dan Miller, if he chose to run, would do a great job as chairperson. But Miller told us he is starting up a new technology and software services business and just doesn’t feel he would be able to give enough attention to leading C.B. 2. “I can always run in a couple of years,” he noted. Meanwhile, one name we are now hearing as a possible contender is Carter Booth, longtime chairperson of one of the board’s two Liquor Licensing Committees. “I think Carter’s going to make an excellent chairperson,” Miller told us. “He attends many committee meetings other than his own. If he’s running the S.L.A. Committee, that’s good experience running the board. Oh, my God, he’s writing 25-page reports each month.” Cormac Flynn, who co-chairs both Liquor Licensing Committees, reportedly also is interested in running for chairperson, but in the view of one board member, “he just doesn’t have the bandwidth to do it.”

St. John’s changes: The massive St. John’s Partners project at 550 Washington St. has undergone some significant changes. Basically, the southern part of the project — south of Houston St. — will not be done under the previously approved plan, but will now be done under the “as of right” zoning. That basically means, the southern part of the project will apparently be commercial offices, and definitely not residential. We’re told this is because “the luxury housing market is drying up.” More to the point, the only affordable housing that will remain in the entire project will be the senior affordable units that were slated for the section north of Houston St. “On the plus side, the building south of Houston St. will be lower,” a source tells us. “The project still will open up Houston St., we still got funding for Pier 40 and we still got the landmarking of the South Village.” The developer’s representatives will explain the situation at the C.B. 2 550 Washington St. Working Group meeting, chaired by Tobi Bergman, on Mon., Oct. 1, at the Fire Museum, 278 Spring St., third floor, starting at 6:30 p.m.

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